We were fortunate to be invited to a wedding in Jaipur during Makar Sankranti. The wedding festivities spanned three days, with three hundred guests making it to the little wedding. A weekend certainly unforgettable for the bride and groom, and for us too.
The invitation was already in itself beautiful. Indeed, among all that fascinates me in India, there is in particular the wedding invitation card. Each time, my eyes are attracted by the colors, the gilding, the drawings, the ribbons, the reliefs, the mirrors. In short, all that composes these luxurious invitations.
They also often contain a representation of Ganesha. On the first picture (certainly the most impressive invitation so far, very large, with wood, full of cardboard inside) and on the one below, the couple we see is that of Radha and Krishna. Their love story embodies eternal passion. This was accompanied by tea bags.
The date of the marriage has come closer and we land in Jaipur. Today it was also the celebration of Makar Sankranti or festival of kites. On this day, and throughout the city, competitions of kites of all colors take place on the roofs of the houses. The festival of Makar Sankranti also marks the arrival of spring which is not the case this year. The week that has just passed was by far the coldest of this winter.
We arrived at the Guest House. We book the room for two nights and the room is spacious. We go under the hot shower. We do have the time to rest as it is time to don the dress and costume. We went to the roof of the hotel where the sangeet ceremony is being held. Just to warn right away, I did not follow the course of things and I cannot explain what exactly happened.
Still, the groom after a short ceremony welcomed his future wife, splendid in red. Their families surrounded them. Then the party continued down, under a booming music, around a good meal and the dance floor (all, filmed by a drone). Before going down, lanterns were thrown into the sky, joining thousands of other lights that shone in the distance for the Makar Sankranti festival.
We are invited for the evening meal before the dance party. It vaguely evokes a kind of big party with lots of music, with people who dance everywhere and all that until no time. This is where we discover the room that will also be the wedding hall the next day. At that moment, we already find the place well prepared.
We spend a beautiful evening, dancing under the sound of music. It's pure madness to see the children helped by the older ones join us. Here everyone is having a blast.
I go for breakfast and return to the Guest House to train and learn a dance specifically requested by the bride. That was not planned to dance to a Bollywood song sweetened during a traditional wedding. We will be in front and behind us other members of her family will follow us.
So we train a good hour and a half, after which we go to eat. The family welcomes us with open arms, prepares the platter and serves us to eat on the terrace. The idea is to start training again after eating. We still have our outfit to complete.
The festivities started at noon. The motto was colours and it was beautiful. The stage of the eve is entirely decorated this time. There are flowers everywhere, forming a drawing. Trays with objects, pots, flowers and seeds are placed in front of the stage. On each side, two rooms are arranged for the newlyweds to change.
On the left is for the bride and all the women of the family, and the same for the groom on the right. Long tables in the entrance were installed with cups of flowers, colored powder and pearl necklaces. First there is preparation, with a session of henna for all women. The men have a lot of expertise.
In a few minutes they draw flowers, arabesques and rosettes on the hands. A dressing session follow. The bride was, as before, breathtakingly beautiful. The hubbub is persistent, barely covered by two musicians installed to the right of the platform. It seems to be just a gathering of people in their Sunday best and not a wedding in an atmosphere of almost general indifference.
It seems that only the married couple and their parents are concerned. The room goes about its business, as the children heckle, the adults go out to smoke, or to go to eat without waiting when the tables are put. The context is a little exotic and we have the impression of to attend rather than to participate, but that's how it happens.
The jewels shine, the eyes sparkle and we are a small center of permanent attention. The bridegroom arrives on a white horse. The crowd of guests encircles him and the party begins. The family begins a dance punctuated by the drums, and leads the others to join them. It's a parade of colors and smiles. The father of the groom baptizes the guests with wads of notes. We are quite taken aback.
It is not common for us to see these gestures of ostentatious wealth in the street! It will be only the beginning! It seems that this brings happiness to future spouses and gives them prosperity! The ceremony begins with a presentation of the men of both families, brothers, uncles, fathers, greet each other and each hand a necklace of orange flowers.
We return to settle in the reception room and the groom sits proudly on a couch housed on a huge red carpet. Meanwhile, we are looking for the bride. It is only after the beginning of the cocktail that she will appear under a banner of flowers supported by her brothers and sisters. It's a very moving moment.
She is simply beautiful in her red dress, decorated with 36 bracelets on each arm. She then sits with her husband on the couch and will follow a series of photos and a parade of gifts. Here, women offer themselves jewelry for this unique occasion that is marriage.
The night is just beginning and the religious wedding ceremony begins. A priest sits cross-legged in front of the bride and groom and delivers prayers in Sanskrit. He sings, burns incense, makes offerings of whole fruits to deities. Several great symbols of love and union will be discussed at the heart of this sacred fire ceremony. We look without understanding the exchanges but totally captivated by everything that happens!
The evening continues around a buffet more than rich. The music was too strong and the dances poorly conducted! The party is in full swing but to our great despair we will have to stop as it is past midnight.
A hearty breakfast is served. The reception ceremony took place on night, which unfortunately we could not attend. Our night train is at 9.30, but we join for a drink and eat before leaving, 30 minutes from the wedding venue. An evening is planned, but we had not been well informed, so we had booked our bus in advance.
We are a bit annoyed to miss this day, as rooms were reserved for us. Anyway, if we leave it is also because a last reception takes place, where we will meet all these people two days later. The marriage is not over.
It was already time for us to return to New Delhi, not without enjoying the spectacle that offered us the road to the airport. Pedestrians, cows and dromedaries walked calmly among cars, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and bicycles, while walking alongside goats and pigs on the sides.